Monday, March 28, 2011

The Wise Man's Fear, a Review + an Analysis

Writing a review for The Wise Man's Fear, Book Two of Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicle, is a difficult task for me.  First, the book is 994 pages in length and covers so many plot-lines that it's hard to create a manageable review.  Second, there was considerable hype leading up to the release of the book, hype that I well bought into and dabbled with.  Third is the fact that this is the middle volume of a trilogy and the story, in the long run, is still unread.  Finally, and probably most importantly, is my bias towards Rothfuss.  If not for his genre-crushing, decade favorite Name of the Wind, I may have given up on fantasy a few years ago.  Instead, the man pulled the wool from my eyes and revealed that a story is more important than magic and cliches.  That said, this review is spoiler-free for Book 2, though it will contain spoilers from Book 1.  In addition to a traditional review, there will also be a clearly marked spoiler section for the analysis of the book (for those of you truly interested in such things, as well as a way for me to clear my head).  So, onto the review.
Review (No WMF Spoilers)
It's another day for Kvothe, his student/assistant Bast, and the acclaimed scribe Devan Lochees (aka the Chronicler) at the Waystone Inn.  All more than a little burdened from the recent death of Shep and the unusual circumstances surrounding it, Kvothe is pressing on to tell the true story of the man behind the legends.  Times are hard for Newarre and its poor farmers, but times are hard for everyone.  

Rothfuss wastes no time getting into the meat of the story.  By Chapter Three, Kvothe is recalling the familiar story that began in Name of the Wind.  In fact, if physical evidence didn't say otherwise, the transition between Book One and Book Two is flawless enough that it feels like I'm reading one book, carrying over the same tone and voice the first one did so well.

If one considers The Wise Man's Fear on its own, problems arise.  In its 994 pages a lot of stuff happens, and on the other hand, nothing happens.  The reader gets plenty of insight to the Four Corners of Civilization, from language lessons in Ademre to lessons of the court in Severen, as well as more lore and history of all manner of folks between.  There is enough world building that one would be tempted to say Rothfuss is wasting too much time with supplemental information, putting off the more important elements of the story.  And, if one considers WMF on its own apart from the trilogy as a whole, I would agree.

There is not enough action and the story is not tight enough for this book to fit the normal molds and expectations readers have.  But, just as Rothfuss is not interested in telling a normal story with normal cliches, this book rises above the normal expectations.  I cannot see how anyone can take a single volume of a story instead of the whole and weigh it and judge it, not fairly, but it happens.  For myself, taking everything I learned in NotW and adding it to WMF, I see one beautiful tale, written in prose and verse sweet enough to charm anyone interested in a good story.

And that's what Wise Man's Fear is.  Better, even, than "good."  It's complex, elegant, hilarious, devastating, tense, dark, mysterious, and many more adjectives.  It's not a book that stands on its own, but its the middle piece to a three-piece puzzle.  The story is the most important thing, and Rothfuss is spinning a wonderful yarn.

All of this is not to say that I didn't have problems with WMF.  Do I feel like there was a lot of extraneous stuff?  Maybe, but is that necessarily a bad thing?  How often do we fall in love with things (book series, tv shows, video games, etc.) and wish we had more?  We long for special features and extended scenes.  Why else would there be a Saw VI and two video games to boot?  Could plenty of this stuff have been edited out and the story still be the same?  Yes.  But did I enjoy it all?  Absolutely.

I'm willing to wade through lots of boring stuff if the story's good, and Rothfuss's extra scenes are not boring.  In the end, what I can say about Wise Man's Fear is that its long, and if you get frustrated at a story that likes to simmer and slow-boil instead of splash out on the stove, then you may be irked, but you'll be entertained, as well.  If you liked The Name of the Wind you'll like this book.  I know I did.


Analysis (WMF Spoilers)
This book is broken down into several different parts and plot lines.  Not all of them are resolved, and that makes things interesting.
  1. The Present, in Newarre
    1. Bast's schemes to get Kvothe back to his former self
    2. Bandits and dangerous roads keeping travelers home
    3. Demons and dark things (scrael & skin changer from NOTW)
    4. Political unrest (Kvothe hints at the true reason why the war is going on)
  2. The Frame Story, at the University
    1. Kvothe looking for information about the Amyr, Chandrian, etc.
    2. Auri and whatever her hidden information entails
    3. The locked door in the Archives
    4. Kvothe learning all his stuff, especially names
    5. Ambrose
    6. Devi, Sim, Willem, Fela, and all the other friends and acquaintances of Kvothe
    7. Kvothe looking for a patron and his music at the Eolian
  3. The Frame Story, in Severen
    1. Kvothe helping out the Maer with all his stuff
    2. Kvothe building his reputation & learning
  4. The Frame Story, in the Eld
    1. Kvothe and the gang looking for bandits
  5. The Frame Story, in the Fae
    1. Kvothe and Felurian, where he learns sex and gains a huge boost to his reputation
    2. Kvothe getting his shaed
    3. Kvothe meeting the Cthaeh and learning many things
  6. The Frame Story, in Ademre
    1. Kvothe learning of the Lethani and Adem culture
    2. Kvothe learning to fight and think
    3. Kvothe getting his sword
  7. The Frame Story, the Road to Levinshire & the false Edemah Ruh
And above and through and between all of these plots are the two major plots: finding the Chandrian and Kvothe & Denna's relationship.  These two plotlines supersede everything else, at least in my opinion, but I cannot figure out which one ranks higher than the other.  Kvothe definitely loves Denna.  To the bottom of his soul he loves her, and yet he can't bring himself to let her know the truth about things.  This is quite frustrating and sad, especially considering her blatant absence and Kvothe's lifeless eyes in the Present.  Did she die, and is Kvothe somehow responsible?  Maybe.  Who knows?  Still, it irks me that Kvothe is too afraid to open himself to this woman, and yet he'll face down the Seven.  I wonder who her patron is and what Denna's after by sticking with him.  Heck, I wonder who Denna really is.

Then we get the Chandrian.  I love how they're barely in the story at all, and yet their presence is felt.  You hear it in the children songs and the campfire stories.  Felurian's refusal to speak of them is disturbing, and Shehyn's legend that can be told only once is mouth-dropping.  They remind me somewhat of Sauron, how he's not too involved in the actual story of LOTR, and yet he's never forgotten.  The Chandrian are even less interested in Kvothe, I think, but they're definitely there.

I really enjoyed the story of Jax and his stealing of the moon.  I thought it was awesome how Felurian told a story about Iax and his thievery of the moon and how it broke apart the world.  I wondered if perhaps the Lady Lackless's box contained this "piece of the moon."  

I also loved the Cthaeh and the Sword Tree.  I guess I might have a thing for ancient, magical swords, I dunno.  The fear Bast expressed when Kvothe mentioned the Cthaeh brings plenty of dread, and who knows what truth it has?

The comedy had me rolling, especially everything involving Elodin.  ("How to Succeed in Being a Jackass.")  I was very curious about the locked door in the Archives in NOTW, and now I'm even more so.  Puppet was pretty cool, too.

The book was long, but I never grew bored.  I did roll my eyes at some of Kvothe's choices and whatnot, but he's a fifteen year old boy, so those were forgivable.  

The idea of a frame story is still interesting.  Kvothe admitting he's not above embellishment made me raise an eyebrow.  It makes me question everything.  But I find it hard to believe how much detail Kvothe can remember.  It just doesn't seem possible.  

The book was so big I can't help but feel like I'm forgetting plenty.  Let me know what you liked and didn't like.  Feel free to be as explicit as you like.  Subscribe to the comments.  I know there are at least three people who've read this and have comments, so I'm interested.


This was a long post.  The comments may or may not have spoilers, so beware.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday: The Happy Story

 In light of the ever-present bleakness of the world and in response to a challenge laid down by my wife, I decided to make a happy story.  So, completely out of character and out of comfort zones, I present "The Happy Story." 

     There once was a great big, green field, ripe with candy canes and daffodils and violets and strawberries. There were mounds of sugar all over the place, free for the taking, and this sugar could not cause diabetes or cavities, for those things were unformed. The sun was always visible (except at night, but then there was always a full moon and lots of stars) and it never got above 75 degrees unless someone specifically requested it.
     The grass was always green and never needed cutting, made perfect by the Blue River’s delta. Weeds lived in harmony with the Blades, the Clovers, and the Crops. Unicorns grazed peacefully in this field alongside billy goats and triceratops. Sometimes even a rainbow would magically appear, even though it never rained in Happy Field. Beneath its wonderfully lit Arc of Every Color, the people and animals of the field would dance and sing songs while bathed in the beautiful aura.
     Conflict did not exist in Happy Field, and if you asked a citizen to define the word they would laugh or shrug and genuinely have no idea what you were talking about. There were no problems. No death or disease or depression. Those things did not exist and they never would, for Happy Field is a place for happy things. Plus, the Rules established explicitly prohibited them.
     One day, Prince John was recited a poem to his beloved Princess Helen, who blushed through the entire event (not from embarrassment, for embarrassment does not exist in Happy Field). She listened, enraptured by his melodic voice and the sweet iambic heptameter of the verse. After he finished he held her tight and kissed her softly on her lips.
     “How I love thee now,” he said, “and forever unto always.”
     “Oh I know this, my handsome prince. Never once did I think otherwise.”
     At that moment some doves swept down into the scene and sang a gentle song of love and eternal romance. Prince John even swooned. The Arc of Every Color seemed to glow brighter and the two young lovers fell into the bottomless depths of each other’s eyes.
     Life was wonderful in Happy Field, and it always would be.

Word Count: 365
The question is how genuine is this yarn?  Is it sickly sweet or teeming with sarcasm?  Does it gently mock below the surface or is it one big yawn?  If conflict doesn't exist, then how can there be a story?  Man, this is so completely different from the normal tone of my writings...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hark! Radiation! Gardens! Composting! Transitions! Jesus!?

Hearken!  If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen!  Or should it be "If anyone has eyes to see, let him see!"?  Or should it be "If anyone is literate, let him read!"?  Gah!  Forget it.

Randall Munroe of xkcd put up a fascinating chart detailing radiation dosages in different situations, compiling several different sources from the mighty interwebs.  Check it out below (or go here to view the original page).
Unless you have phenomenal eyesight, click to gigantify

Am I the only one who finds it odd that bananas contain radiation?  I mean, it makes perfect sense, considering radiation is everywhere (EVERYBODY PANIC!) and bananas are, um, there.  If you break it down, if you eat 4000000 bananas in a short period of time, you're going to get radiation poisoning.  The radiation probably wouldn't be fatal, but the freaking 4000000 bananas sure would be.  This is why I steer clear of bananas.

I'm not sure why, but I've always been fascinated by radiation disasters, like Chernobyl or Hiroshima and the likes.  It's horrifying to think that we're capable of such devastation.  I did a report in high school on J.R. Oppenheimer and have always been fascinated by his often quoted phrase (which in turned is quoted from the Bhagavad Gita): "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

Can you imagine being responsible for such death and destruction?  Sure, there were plenty of other issues going on during the times, but still, nuclear power.  I, for one, have no problems with nuclear power plants.  (This coming from a civil & environmental engineer.)  Heck, I don't have a problem with bombs either, though it depresses me to no end thinking that innocent people die from their destruction.  (It depresses me that not-so-innocent people die, too.)  I don't know where I'm going with this.  I meant to write about how I thought that xkcd chart was interesting, but maybe I'm just morbid.

For lack of transition, Spring has arrived in beauty and splendor.  The weather has been in the 60s and 70s, perfectly windy, with glorious sunshine and radiance.  Our hyacinths sprouted a few days ago and are already standing tall and smelling wonderfully.  The tulips haven't yet bulbed, but they shall soon.  Sunday afternoon I spent several hours outside, working in the garden, flipping soil, etc.  After that I planted about 50 onions while Keisha planted some peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce in a mini-greenhouse for transplanting later.  She also planted some carrots in the flower garden, since we're not going to have as much greenery as we did last year.  If all goes well, we'll have a nice little harvest this year.

I've always wanted to compost, but I've never known how really.  Apparently, if I wanted any compost for use this spring/summer, then I needed to start last fall.  Still, I'm thinking I may try my hand at making some in use for any fall crops we happen to plant.

Truthfully, I'm just hoping my yard doesn't have as many weeds as it did last year.  I know very little about yard maintenance, but I know enough that weeds look like crap.

For lack of transition, we met with some pediatricians yesterday, trying to select one before our daughter arrives.  Stewart Little has been kicking up a storm lately, and I find it hard to describe how much I'm looking forward to holding my baby.  It's amazing.

For grasp of a transition, it's amazing that we get the privilege to serve and worship the God of the Universe.  I was listening to a sermon yesterday that talked about how we often like to focus on the fact that we have to give up and sacrifice things to serve God and that we often spin that as a sad story.  Truthfully, said the minister, it's an amazing, beautiful story.  We get the honor to serve and worship God when He could just as easily squash us for our sin.  How awesome is that?  Moreso, how awesome is it that He loves us despite our wickedness?  I mean, can you imagine being responsible for the death and destruction of the soul, how our sins are tiny atomic bombs dropped on our souls over and over throughout our lives, and yet Jesus loves us even though we're sick with banana poisoning?  It's honestly the most astonishing thing imaginable that God loves us.  We're being selfish and vain if we think the Creator owes us anything. 

More and more I find my thoughts turning towards God.  I hunger for His Word.  I thirst for the Spirit's presence and guidance.  I yearn to worship Jesus, so that the Father can be exalted.  I am so unworthy, and yet God has made me worthy.  I mean, I'm an idiot, yet God loves me.  Craziness.  Amen.

For lack of transition, Epic Weekend is coming.  LOTR extended version marathon.  Risk.  Nerf guns.  Nights of mayhem and sleeplessness.  Mischief and miscellany.  Disc golf.  Music.  Laughs and fellowship.  I cannot wait.

Telos, for lack of transition.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Flash Fiction Friday: The Article, The Note

The Recorder has obtained a letter sent from a traitor who confessed to the Kroisan rebels secrets of state.  It has been reproduced in its entirety below, with security measures enforced by the Intelligence & Security Department removing sensitive information.  Due to the graphic details of this letter, discretion is advised.  Parents are urged to use this letter as a "teachable lesson" for children, editing where they see fit.
My Dearest XXXXXXX,
I hope this letter finds you before you see the news or read a report elsewhere.  I am writing so you will know the truth of the matter of my actions, not the XXXXXX you will hear from XXXXXXXXXX when the time comes.  I do not hope to maintain your respect, though I like to believe otherwise.
When you’re hungry, you don’t care that the world around you has turned black and gray, brown and red.  You don’t care that the decapitated head of your best friend is still laying out on the table, turned towards you with its tongue hanging out and covered in white slime, eyes white and staring through you.  You don’t care that you watch the rats crawl around and nibble on his ear and you wish to God that you were one of them.  You don’t care that he died loyal to the King, keeping his secrets to the very end, a good citizen of the Country.
As you know, I was trained, just like XXXXX, to endure torture.  Tiny blades that can slide beneath your fingernails or through your navel or maybe between your eyes were things used in practice.  Losing your manhood and being raped until you blackout.  Electrocution.  Even amputation.  All of those I could--and did--endure, and only once did I ever break, though not from anything mentioned above.
I suppose they knew that XXXXX would never confess no matter what they did to him, but they somehow saw my inner workings.  They cut his head off not an hour after our capture.  Made me watch.  It took four swings from the sword before the head and body were separated.  They left the body where it was but positioned the head like I mentioned before.  Then, quite simply, they asked me if I had any information for them.
“No,” I said, and they nodded in their understanding.
“You will,” one of them responded, and then they left.
I was locked in a basement somewhere, left alone with XXXXX’s corpse, blood flowing from his neck like a leaking barrel.  Sometime later they returned with their instruments.  I was ready, or I thought I was.  The first cut burned, but it wasn’t too bad.  The second was agitating, but endurable.  I stopped counting after two hundred.  I was in and out of consciousness for the next several days, victimized and abused, but never once did a secret spill from my lips.
“I know what will break him,” one of them said.
They packed their instruments and left without another word.  XXXXX’s body disappeared, leaving only a decaying skull behind.  Both of my legs were broken and I did not expect to last long.  Unfortunately, my captors knew what they were doing.
For days I was left alone, visited sporadically by someone with a pail of water thrown in my face.  I was given no food.  My existence was barely acknowledged.  The thousands of tiny lacerations that covered my skin burned and bled, from the soles of my feet to my scalp.  But this pain was nothing compared to the pain of an empty stomach.
I was too weak to chase a rat, too broken to move.  I began hallucinating at some point, imagining I was ill in bed and you and your mother [were] taking care of me.  [You were] both proud of my perseverance, and when I mentioned spilling my secrets you both discouraged me from acting rashly, loyal to the Country til the end.
I don’t know how long this lasted.  I was fed a nibble of something from time to time, always when I thought I was near to death.  I received milk once.  By the end I was begging them to confess, willing to part with anything they desired.  I told them all the secrets I knew and invented lies for the things I didn't.  XXXXX’s rotted head scowled unapprovingly as I made my confession, but I was beyond care.  XXXXXXXX XXXXX XXXX XXX XXX XXXXXXX.  I only wanted the hunger to leave me.  My captors smiled knowingly, and when I was finished they brought me a sackful of apples and pears and a gallon of water.
My clothes  [were] returned to me, though they pained me to wear.  “Go,” one of them said, and I obliged.  I exited the basement to a posh business suite, empty of life.  It was dark outside as I stumbled out the front door onto the sidewalks of downtown XXXX, hobbling on a crutch and wounded knees.  I caught a reflection in the glass, a man horribly scarred and disfigured.  It took a moment to realize it was my own self.  Even my eyes were different.
I lived, if you call it that, as a pariah, slowly recovering from the ordeal. I scrounged newspapers, dreading the words I knew were coming because of my treason.  King Oram dead.  Stalivia falls to terrorists!  XXXXXXXX betrays God and King!  But never once did I see any indiction [sic] that the world was any different than before.  I did not know who my captors were, but they had knowledge, and knowledge topples empires.
I hope, my son, that you work out what to do with this letter.  I pray that it finds its way to you unadultered.  Keep your mother safe.  Give XXX my love.  I shall not contact you again.
Fondly Good-bye,
It is unclear to The Recorder the identity of the traitor or what secrets were spilled.  While his torture was unimaginable, his treachery is unforgivable, and let us all hope the Country does not suffer because of his actions.  King Oram lives on, fighting for the great freedoms we have here in our great Country.  Long live Stalivia, and long live the King!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

And Now A Relatively Simple Cypher

there are two marbles swimming in the milky whites of my irises, though i'm unsure how white they are at the moment.  in fact, i know for certain that one of them is polluted with a crimson spot that i cannot explain.  the marbles themselves are color-changing, green when they need to be, blue when they have to be, but otherwise some shade of fire-rimmed teal, impure with speckles of black and gold.  at any given moment these marbles are active, unconsciously working from rote.  the only break they get is when you pull down the shades and bathe them in darkness, but even then the marbles still are turned on, only now they're facing something relatively opaque.  currently, my marbles are enduring a dry spell, ravaged by an inferno of questionable origin.

is there a greater joy to life than chopping up onions and potatoes?  the chopping itself isn't the joy, but when combined with a little garlic, some salt & pepper, a splash of oil, and frying pan on a hot stove, then the joy is born.

i nicked my lip the other day when i was raking the sharp thing across my face.  the act of deforestation is a task that generates odd sensations at the bottom of my toes.  when the rain comes later, it helps cool the burning flames of hewing down thousands of tiny, tiny trees.  applying a liberal coating of tincture works wonders as well.

it's been almost a month since i last finished a novel.  life is bee-like, life is snail-like.

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sometimes my computer works on overtime.  the creative blood flows through its components, but its output lacks panache.  still, i can't help but idle at its keyboard and make something.

i've been thinking about starting another blog, one focused on the memory verses that i'm learning.  ideally, i'd post the memory verse and my thoughts about it, which would mean one post per week.  decisions.

there is a new piece of flash fiction scheduled for tomorrow.  i had a different serial i was going to do, one that's already completed, but instead i'm holding off on that one for a while.  for those of you who care.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Meeting Pat Rothfuss (Again)

Friday night I went to Lexington to see Pat Rothfuss.  I made the 3+ hour trip with Keisha, armed with my copy of Wise Man's Fear and Princess and Mr. Whiffle.  I got there early, purchased two paperback copies of The Name of the Wind for a fellow blogger who asked, picked up my letter ticket to stand in line for later, and left the bookstore to kill some time.  The event started at 6:30 or something, and we returned to the bookstore about an hour early, grabbing some seats up close to the front.

Keisha and I sat in the seats and talked with a few fans.  I'm under the impression that most nerds/geeks are friendly at heart, due to common interests and years of oppression.  We talked about geeky things: video games, other books and authors, computers.  Talk eventually turned to Wise Man's Fear, where a few of us pointed out we weren't finished so please avoid spoilery.  I was already nervous enough that I would have something ruined for me.

Eventually Pat arrived in splendor and glory, and soon after the event started.  Because there were many people there, several of whom drove quite a distance, they would let those with small children or 2+ hour drives move through the line early, avoiding the queue later on.  This was a pleasant surprise, as I fully expected to wait around for 2 or 3 hours before getting my stuff signed.  So I got in line with my books and waited patiently to meet Pat.

Last year when I met Pat I spazzed out, forgetting whatever it was I was going to say and simply basking in his glory.  I mean, what can I say around someone I hold in high esteem?  But this year it wasn't as bad.  Sure, I felt a brief moment of awkwardness, asking about how the tour was going and if he'd been sick or anything, but my lovely wife bailed me out.  She told Pat how much I loved his work and that I would be reading aloud to her and the growing baby inside.  Talk of babies brought about me receiving parenting advice from Pat Rothfuss, where he discoursed on breast feeding and lactation nurses and a trick to do with my pinkie for the young lass when she comes.  We talked for quite a bit, he signed my books, and we parted ways.

Before the Q&A started, Pat established some ground rules.  No Spoilers, and nothing related to spoilery.  Then the questions started.  Simple stuff from what type of music does he listen to when he writes (None, it's too distracting), to who would finish his series if he happened to die (Dude, really?  Some dead author, he picked, as it wasn't specified), to inspiration for stories  (I'm reasonably sure he said he didn't believe in inspiration), to editing problems using Word (he told an anecdote of spending 25 hours removing the word "that" from unnecessary spots, which isn't noticeably different to anyone reading (he also told this same story last year)), to many other things.  I asked him what it felt like being in the Top 10 Best SFF novels of the decade on, but he didn't hear me right and thought I asked how the tour was so far, in which he responded about how awesome it is but also how surreal the whole thing was, where he could understand how rock stars killed themselves in hotel rooms and stuff, not that he was a rock star or anything.

One thing that was rather awesome was someone asked him what his favorite gift was that he'd received from the mail-in thing, and he said he'd received a whole lot of cool stuff.  The first thing he mentioned was the quarter with a bullet hole.  Now I understand how silly this sounds, but that makes me somewhat proud to know that Pat thinks that quarter's cool.  Sure, really it's just lame and doesn't amount to anything, but I think it's cool that he remembers it.  He may not know me, but he knows my quarter.

Another thing that was awesome was someone asking him to sing a song for us.  With some friendly goading and a helpful lyric sheet printed by the Joseph Beth staff, Pat had no choice, and he sang an a capella version of Jonathan Coulton's "I Crush Everything."  (Coulton's got some great stuff, if you've ne'er heard him.  Check out his stuff here.)  Pat's lone voice was great, smooth and perfect for such a tragic song.  Plus, his slower tempo version made the sad song even more tragic, and the whole audience was sucked into his song.

Pat also read a story from his bygone days as a college newspaper humorist about pets in the dorms.  I happen to have a signed copy of The College Survival Guide, which is an anthology of many of these letters, and this story alone was part of the reason why I bought the book.  It's hilarious.

And really that was about it.  We ran into a friend that I helped recruit to Pat's Legion, and we talked for a while.  I also saw fellow blogger Jay, and we talked briefly about various things.  Overall, the event was a lot of fun and I'm very glad I went.  I'm sure in a few years whenever Book Three is released I'll go again, finishing out my collection of signed copies of The Kingkiller Chronicles.  I'm still fond of Pat's writing and his generosity, his down-to-earth attitude, and his excellent story of Kvothe.  I'm sure there's more, but my mind's fuddled.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rhapsodizing on Pat Rothfuss

Looking back through the Pat Rothfuss tags on my blog one could probably piece together a picture of my allegiance to Pat Rothfuss.  It wouldn't be hard to see that I'm a fan and that I've been one for four years now.  His name pops up often when thinking about great writing or blogging about good fantasy novels.  Still, through all these past posts I haven't really told The Story.  Pieces of it, yes, but not the whole thing.  Now, on the eve of my second trip to visit Pat at a signing, I feel the time is at hand.


I got married on May 5, 2007.  The Name of the Wind was released on March 27, 2007.  I bought the book on my honeymoon on a whim (the naked man chest cover was... odd).  The book happened to be a first edition, first printing, though at the time I didn't particularly care.  So first and foremost, I've been a fan from the get-go, practically.  I knew there was something special about the story I was reading.  I had been a reader of fantasy for so long that I'd grown calloused and bored of the repetitive, cliched yarns that authors told and re-told.  The wool was thick over my eyes, and Pat's Name of the Wind was the catalyst that pulled the wool away and set it aflame, never to return again.

I was so blown away by the book that I sent Pat an email, timestamped in June of 2007.
Hey Patrick,

I just finished reading the Name of the Wind and was sitting here absorbing the story.  I usually don't read a book with the jacket on and so when I put it back on I noticed the web address.  I just wanted to let you know that the book was absolutely amazing.  I've been reading fantasy and sci-fi books since I was young, but this book was different.  It really felt, well, real.  I look forward to the next book and more from your creation.  Take care & God bless.
Heh.  It felt good to read something fresh and original.  I was so thankful for the story and for its ability to pull me from the clutches of boring fiction that I just had to let the author know.  I wasn't expecting a response or anything, not really, but not even a week later I received this.
Logan (?) [I'm assuming you're a logan, due to your e-mail address.]

Thanks much for your message. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. It's been pretty busy around here.

I'm glad you liked the book. I love it when long time fantasy readers enjoy it. It lets me know that I've done something right. I was shooting for that "real" feeling.

I should go now. Got to get back to book two so I don't keep you waiting too long.


Perhaps had he not responded I wouldn't have the feelings for him that I do today.  The feeling that even though Pat's a worldwide literary superstar, he still is a real, down-to-earth guy that enjoys people, not to mention nerdy things (e.g. Joss Whedon).

So I started following his blog, counting myself as one of his fanatical minions and basking in his general awesomeness.  (I mean, did you see that beard?)  And what does one do when one loves something?  They talk about it.  So I talked and talked about his book, but I didn't know anyone personally that had read it.  So I bought some copies to give away or loaned mine out to friends and family, practically begging them to read TNOTW.  Then I found other bloggers with similar interest, and my passion for blogging was rekindled toward the end of 2008.

In the Fall of 07 Pat blogged about getting your book signed if you mailed it to him.  To make a long story short (you should go read that post, it's hilarious), Pat said he would sign your book if you mailed it to him and included "something cool."  I knew exactly what to send.  I packaged up my book and trinkets and sent them away, and sometime later received my book back, personalized and signed.  "Cool," I thought.  But even cooler, and another reason why Pat moved even higher up on the pedestal I had him, he mentioned the "something cool" that I mailed him on his blog.
Since then, hundreds of people have send in books for me to sign. And the cool things they’ve sent have been… well… really cool.
Someone send in a quarter with a bullet hole in it. A handmade Kvothe doll. Old coins. Keys. Jewelry. Magical charms. Grue protective gear. Brass gears, foreign delicacies, and strange gods…. [Source here.]
You see that?  I sent in that quarter, along with a few other odds & ends that I don't remember.  The quarter, in particular, was one from target practice with my uncle and brother.  If I remember correctly, the shot wasn't perfectly centered, but kind of off, hitting most of the coin but also clipping off part of the side.  I was proud of the shot, and I thought this memento would make a great offering.  Pat's mentioning it put a smile on my face for a while after that.

Considering all of this, there really was no hope for me.  I fell into the role of devotee, recommending TNOTW to everyone and their brother.  I read and re-read the book, once aloud to my wife even.  His follow-up book, a not-for-children children's picture book, The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle, came out last Fall, and I loved it.  It was funny, clever, witty, dark, and overall just another reason to like Pat.

Now that I am about 40% through The Wise Man's Fear, the sequel to The Name of the Wind, my faith in Pat has only grown stronger.  The story is even more beautiful than the first, more refined and more entertaining.  Last time I met Pat, I blanked out and got, uhm, star struck?  Tongue-tied?  Nervous?  I mean, I was meeting an idol.  Tomorrow I hope to act differently, but I make no promises.  For even though Pat is a down-to-earth fellow nerd, he's still a famous author who will be, undoubtedly, exhausted from the tour and tired from the late night.  I feel bad knowing that I'm taking up his time, but then again, I am driving three hours to see the guy.

Expect a write-up of the event next week.  Who knows, I may finish WMF and have that reviewed, too.  Also, you should check out Deanna's review of The Name of the Wind here.  She met Pat last night at a signing and will have a post up next week, too.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Meaning of It All, being chiefly an article about Love and Commitment

I can't get Jars of Clay "Love Song for a Savior" out of my head.  The refrain is so simple, but so profound, when offered to Jesus.
I want to fall in love with You
I want to fall in love with You
I want to fall in love with You
I want to fall in love with You
Really, what else could I want?  Is there any other that I'd rather fall in love with?  No, there is no one but God.

This song has me thinking back to a few memory verses ago.  Deuteronomy 10:12,13 has Moses asking the Israelites what the LORD requires of them.  He lists five things.
  1. To fear the LORD
  2. To walk in all His ways
  3. To love Him
  4. To serve Him with all their hearts and all their souls
  5. To keep the commandments and statutes given to them
Do you see #3?  God requires that His people love Him.  And even though these verses are explicitly to the Israelites, they carry over to all of us that are now children of the Promise.  God still requires these five things of us if we are following Him. While there could be commentary on each of these points, I want to focus in particular on #3, especially with its relation to the Jars of Clay song.

The truth of the command--to love Him--is simple; the actuality of it is more involved.  How do we love Him?  How do we love anybody?  Can we be forced to love somebody or something?  No, our love is an intentional choice that we give away.  It is the greatest gift we have available to give.  We have the option to either love or not to love anything, from our spouses to our jobs to our children to the stranger on the corner.  We can choose to not show love, and our love is often conditional.

God's love for us, though, is unconditional, and this is a choice he intentionally made.  He could have loved us conditionally, punishing us for our sins or turning His back to us for our pride.  He would have been perfectly just in doing so, but that's not His character.  For some crazy reason, God has promised unconditional love on us, and this blows my mind.  I don't deserve His love, yet He gives to me at all times (Lamentations 3:22,23).  He renews His mercies every morning for us.  Despite the fact that we're all failures in life and we've all sinned, God still chooses to love us.

So the question is if God commands us to love Him, then why wouldn't we?  How could we not love someone who unconditionally loves us?  Why would we want to turn away from that love?  (I think it's because of ignorance or self-pride, but that's neither here nor there.)  Somehow, perhaps it's the confines of this flesh, our bodies do not want to love God but want to love the world.  This epic tragedy is the gaping problem of many Christians, as well as the lost.  There is no love in the heart for God.

If we are in love with God then we will show it.  We will proclaim our love to Him (through worship and praise and thanksgiving).  We will show off our love, like the young couple that walks hand in hand and dripping with undeniable chemistry.  We will talk about our love, to the point that it could very well sicken those around us.  But the amazing part is that we can enjoy this relationship with other people that are in love with the Creator of the Everything. 

The love of God and for God is not an exclusive love, but an open, free-for-all bottomless tank.  God loves us so much and wants a relationship with us.  He gave us His word.  He gave us the Spirit.  He gave us the blood of His Son.  He made us His children, giving us the right to speak to him (via prayer).  We have everything available to make a meaningful relationship with Him, but so many of us choose not to do it.

How is that even sane?  I don't know.  I know I have dropped the ball of the relationship innumerable times, turning from Him and pursuing my own selfish desires.  There have been people I have not shown love to, and that is painful looking back.  Still, when I look up, God's there for me, waiting with a cross-shaped hug to embrace me and dote on me.

With the starting of Lent (a liturgical season I have never practiced) I have committed myself to actively pursuing God for the next 46 days.  I will be fasting and praying and reading His word religiously (hahahaha! puns!), desperately seeking to draw nearer to the Savior who gave/gives everything to me.  I want to fall in love with Him every possible moment of my life.  There is no one else I would rather love.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau, some thoughts

Like my typical reviews, these thoughts will be spoiler-free, but there will also be a clearly marked spoiler section, too.

I came into the theater with an idea of what The Adjustment Bureau was about.  Some guy destined to become the President or something cannot be allowed to fall in love with some girl and he's being forced to take drastic steps in order to maintain his love.  It seemed kind of like The Fountain but maybe possibly a Borne movie, too.

My expectations weren't quite right, and instead I watched a weak action movie with a heavy hand of philosophy and true love.  Suffice it to say I was bored.  The film progressed way too slowly, with an exposition that seemed to go on and on and a plot that seemed to only slightly pick up steam towards the end.  As for conflict, my assumptions were right on the surface, but the motivations behind them were completely wrong.

In short, The Adjustment Bureau was not worth the matinee prices we payed to watch it.  I thought the plot could have been salvaged by Damon & Blunt, but even their on-screen chemistry could not lift the story from its cheesiness, flawed ending, and dumb characters.

Maybe I'm in the minority here, since the film currently has a 69% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but not by much.  If you want my recommendation, I'd wait until it's out on video.



1.  Referring to the Chairman as "the Chairman" all the time was just ridiculous.  I really had a problem with the "angels" and stuff being portrayed as clandestine agents, because that's just stupid, and the corporate type setting is just plain dumb.  Their plan books with their weird, circuit-like paths came across as cheesy and simplistic.  The hats were silly.  The idea of the doors was pretty cool, but other than that I thought these guys were total squares.

2.  After half an hour of exposition I thought that the film was about to pick up speed, but nothing.  The only excitement came from Harry chasing down a bus, from Norris running from some agents, and then more running later on. 

3.  I felt like the film was out to pose deep philosophical questions about fate and free-will and stuff, but it didn't.  I think it was just out to say "Look, humanity, you keep screwing up and you better stop it or you're gonna destroy the world and Imma tell on you!"

4.  Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and Anthony Mackie all did well, and I enjoyed Michael Kelly's performance quite a bit, too.

5.  The more I think about it the more I disliked the movie.  Maybe I should've save my money for Battle: LA or something.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Miscellaneous Miscellany

There's many things a-brewing in the wonderful world.  Morning Bell, release me, release me....

1.  There's an official release date for GRRM's long awaited, highly anticipated, vastly overdo A Dance With Dragons, the fifth volume of the magnificent Song of Ice and Fire series.  According to all the reputable bloggers that I follow (Wert, Pat, Graeme, Aidan, and John), as well as GRRM himself, the hard publication date is July 12.  The book's not quite finished, but close enough that GRRM and the publisher have confidence that it will be completed in time for printing this summer.  If it does come out (and I really hope it does), then 2011 is shaping up to be the Year for Fantasy.

2.  I think I may go watch The Adjustment Bureau tomorrow.  I love me some Matt Damon.

3.  Little babies' eyes eyes eyes........

4.  I crafted a feast fit for a medieval lord and his lady last night, following closely this recipe, but changing up a few things.  'Twas a most delicious meal, even if the serfs scratched at my legs and begged for spare crumbs.  A flagon of ale or a goblet of wine would have been pleasant, but as my lady is with child we chose water instead.

5.  When I am king you will be first against the wall...

6.  Let us take a moment to look at the trends of my utility bills and usage.

Fascinating, I daresay.  One may notice the spike of water consumption for this current 'fiscal' year, and that was after I had my yard re-seeded and had to water like a madman.  Living next to a river, I don't feel bad about this at all.  I did feel bad about the bill, though...

7.  How do we really know what we know?  What proof do we have that the green that I see is the same green that you see?  Is it?  Who's to say that there aren't subtle differences in people's eyes that have minute changes to things?  Or does cinnamon taste the same to me as someone else?  Why does one man like its flavor and another find it repulsive?  Is it mere preference?  If it's true for the sense of taste, surely this must be true for the other senses, too?  Does a pinch not hurt some more than others?  Or a slap in the face?  Or the smell of fresh hyacinths may cause one to break out into hives while the other enjoys a moment of ecstasy.  And surely the differences in music and tone are evident between people.  So again, how do we really know what we know?  Isn't what we know only relative to the individual and we make vast assumptions for the rest of the world?  Seems rather selfish to me...

7b.  Did you think twice about the last sentence above in light to its previous sentence?

7c.  Is my being clever pretentious or in good humor?

8.  Wakey wakey rise and shine it's on again off again on again...

9.   This week's memory verse is from John 1:12,13.  
"But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
    That's some good stuff there.  Makes me think about the ones that don't receive Him...

10.  Do not cry out or hit the alarm, you know we're friends til we die...

11.  I never tire of listening to Radiohead.  "Climbing up the Walls" may possibly be one of the best songs of all time.  It's beautiful, yet somehow sinister, and the explosion at the end leaves your heart pumping.  If you've not listened to it in a while (or never heard it), check it.  It sounds like a madman finally losing it.  (In fact, I think it's about a mental hospital or insanity or something.)

12.  We had some beautiful weather this past week here in Kentucky.  I spent it outside barefoot working on some chairs that needed stripping and sanding.  I also spent it picking up dog crap out of the back yard and weeding dead hostas from around the mailbox and absorbing sun into my heavily freckled arms.

13.  Only fifty pages or so into Wise Man's Fear, but this weekend will proffer me much desired free time.

14.  If you feel like listening to a sermon that could possibly rock your world a little, then check this out.  It deals with really loving people and overcoming pride.  I don't really consider my self proud, but wow, after this I've been thinking about how much I really love people and what I do for them.  Francis Chan is an amazing preacher of the Word, and I recommend everyone give this a listen if you've got an hour or so. 

15.  Enjoy the weekend.  Don't lick the grapes.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

I Had This Dream Last Night

I had this dream last night, where it was Friday next and I was in Lexington to see Pat Rothfuss.  For some reason the book store was a Borders (mayhap because of my pre-ordering problem), even though Pat's signing is at Joseph-Beth next week.  I was there with some of my friends from college, the same guys I went white water rafting with a few months back for William's bachelor party.  William was driving his truck, and Bill, Gaurav, Adam Graham, Chandresh (he didn't raft with us, but he was present nevertheless), and myself were all crammed in William's truck.  It was raining, storming, drawing late.  We arrived at the mall where the signing was to take place and I went in and picked up my copy of the book.  The queue completely filled up Borders and spilled well over into the halls and antechambers of the mall.  Near the end of the line, I decided to go hang out with my friends.  In the dream, time passed quickly, and soon it was almost 10pm and the line had moved only slightly.  Still, Pat was signing away, even though he was getting a bit frazzled.  We decided to wait in the truck for a while, and I thought about just leaving so everyone else could get some sleep.  Besides, I had to drive three hours back home.  But they all assured me it was alright and I should go back in, so I did.  The line was practically non-existent when I returned.  The Borders, for some odd reason, was filled with Christmas trees.  Scores of gold-and-red decorated trees, lights a-burning, surrounded the aisle that led up to Pat's raised dais, where he was surrounded by even more Christmas decor.  As I approached him I noticed he was wearing a wig, red dreadlocks dangling in neat order.  His personal assistant had on two wigs, one on top of the other.  I nervously watched the people in front of me chat with Pat and get their books signed.  Soon it was my turn, the last in line, and I stepped up in front of Pat's table.  He looked at me with disinterest in his eyes; my heart broke a bit.  There was something else, too, though it was slippery and I couldn't quite grasp what the look held.  I presented my book, but instead of signing he turned to the manager of the Borders and began talking.  I looked past him onto the Christmas trees below and tried to understand what was going on.  Pat began talking about his ostrich farm and how he mined iron there in order to make sweet rings, like the one he was wearing and showing off.  The manager was impressed.  Pat said that even though it was late he was still interested in attending the poker tournament, and I saw a few card tables off to the side of some Christmas trees.  Finally Pat turned back to me and signed his name and then I went away, tail tucked and brain addled.  How could I have forgotten about the joint signing & poker game?  As I left I realized I forgot to have him sign my Princess and Mr. Whiffle, but that was okay.

Pat was like the King of Christmas or something.  He reminded me a lot of the Ghost of Christmas Present.  And the poker game?  What the heck?  But, oddest of all, is the ostrich farm.  Really?

On a related note, I got a copy of Wise Man's Fear yesterday.  I found out I don't have to buy a book at the signing and I had a gift card to my local bookstore, so it's a win-win.  So far, the book's awesome, even if it is causing weird dreams.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I Currently Am Not Reading...

...The Wise Man's Fear right now, even though I've had it pre-ordered for ages and ages and fully expected a shipping confirmation this morning.  Instead, looking on the website at my order details I see two alarming words:

On Backorder

How can my book be "On Backorder" if I freaking pre-ordered it?  I'm extremely tempted to purchase another copy elsewhere just so I can read it now, but there's a possibility that I'll have to buy another copy at the signing next Friday, and I don't think I need three hardcover copies of this book, nor do I really have the funds for such an extraneous purchase.  Grrrr.  Patience.  Patience.  But what if it stays backordered for a long time?  Or what if I don't get a first edition, first printing?  Or what if, heaven forbid, I have to wait another month?!

Oh the humanity!  Whatever shall I do?